2 years ago

We haven’t changed the color. We haven’t reorganized all the photo frames on the wall. But we’ve given things a bit of a refresh.

As you may have noticed, prospects who began the 2022 season in the Majors and have been there ever since (without accruing 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched) crossed the 45-day threshold on Sunday, meaning they’ve officially graduated. Goodbye to the likes of Spencer Torkelson, Hunter Greene and Jeremy Peña.

Instead of simply adding three new names to the Top 100, we’ve reevaluated some aspects of the list by reshuffling the Top 15 slightly, moving some prospects up/down significantly who have earned it and adding a slew of new Top 100 names based on early returns through the first two months of the Major and Minor League seasons.

The Top 15
Previous at-bat-based graduations by Bobby Witt Jr. and Julio Rodríguez already have the Top 15 feeling fairly new — hello again to Adley Rutschman in the No. 1 overall spot — and the loss of Torkelson adds a new wrinkle. We’ve replaced one Tigers prospect with another at No. 2.

There was some internal debate as to whether to stick with Riley Greene (previously No. 3), who has missed the beginning of the season with a fractured foot, or have the healthy and productive Orioles right-hander Grayson Rodriguez jump over him, giving Baltimore the top two prospects on our list. We stuck with Greene for now out of a belief he can pick right back up where he left off as an All-Star-caliber everyday player for Detroit, but note that Rodriguez has done more than just held serve in his first trip to Triple-A.

We’ve held on the next chunk of names as well — No. 4 Gabriel Moreno, No. 5 Anthony Volpe, No. 6 C.J. Abrams and No. 7 Francisco Álvarez — even though none in that group has completely taken off because we still believe in the long-term outlook of all four. Giants shortstop Marco Luciano jumps three places into the No. 8 spot, thanks to an improved contact rate in his return to High-A. No. 9 Noelvi Marte and No. 10 Marcelo Mayer give us three straight shortstops to close out the Top 10.

The new No. 11 overall prospect is our biggest jumper in this group. Guardians right-hander Daniel Espino moved 38 spots up from No. 49 after showing some of the best stuff in the Minors at Double-A Akron with a triple-digit heater and low-90s (you read that right) slider. The 21-year-old fanned 35 in 18 1/3 innings before hitting the IL with a knee injury.

Shane Baz — currently returning from his elbow injury — slips behind Espino on the RHP list and into the No. 12 overall slot. D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll jumps four places of his own to No. 13 as he looks fully recovered and productive at Double-A Amarillo. Triston Casas and Jack Leiter remain in their places to round out the Top 15.

Brennen Davis was the only previous member of the Top 15 club to fall out, and he’s still banging on the door at No. 16. The Cubs outfielder has hit just .195/.286/.299 with a 34.1 percent K rate in 22 games at Triple-A Iowa. A back injury that currently has him on the IL could be to blame, and that’s part of why his slow start hasn’t slipped him further down the rankings.

Moving up
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, Padres (No. 81 to No. 34):
Gore was one of the biggest question marks of the preseason Top 100 because of previous inconsistencies with his command and delivery. That all looks ironed out now, and the 23-year-old has been effective with a 2.06 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 38 strikeouts in 35 Major League innings, thanks to a mid-90s fastball and complementary slider, curve and change.

Bobby Miller, RHP, Dodgers (No. 53 to No. 37): Miller made only three Double-A starts in 2021. He’s back in Tulsa now and has been healthy and showing off high-octane stuff, highlighted by a fastball that can get up to 101. He still needs to work deeper into games, but Miller could be at Chavez Ravine by the end of the summer.

Shea Langeliers, C, Athletics (No. 55 to No. 42): The 24-year-old backstop has made a big impression since joining the A’s system in the Matt Olson deal with the Braves. Langeliers has been known for his big-time arm and overall defensive work since his college days and continues to show budding power with 11 homers, a .549 slugging percentage and .913 OPS at Triple-A Las Vegas. Even baking in some of the desert home effects, Langeliers has shown some of the best pop in his new system.

Kyle Harrison, LHP, Giants (No. 71 to No. 45): Harrison has put a plus heater and plus slider to work at High-A Eugene, where he’s fanned 59 in only 29 innings. Put another way, he’s struck out exactly 50 percent of the batters he’s faced to begin the season. The southpaw could need a Double-A challenge at just 20 years old soon.

Gunnar Henderson, SS/3B, Orioles (No. 60 to No. 48): The 2019 second-rounder has walked more than he’s struck out (35 vs. 27) while still hitting for power (seven homers, .538 slugging percentage) over 36 games at Double-A Bowie. He’s stolen 12 bases as well, helping his case as a multi-tooled infielder before his 21st birthday.

Liover Peguero, SS, Pirates (No. 75 to No. 62): Already an above-average defender at a premium position, Peguero looks like he could be an above-average offensive threat too after taking kindly to Double-A Altoona (.317 average, 139 wRC+) in his first taste of the upper Minors.

Joey Wiemer, OF, Brewers (No. 94 to No. 82): Questions about the overall hit tool remain, but everything else in Wiemer’s skill set has had no issue transferring to Double-A for the first time. He’s already halfway to a 20-20 season in Biloxi and claims five assists from right field, where his plus-plus arm is a natural fit.

Andrew Painter, RHP, Phillies (No. 100 to No. 74): Painter was our most recent addition to the Top 100, and we’ll use this opportunity to vault him even higher. The 2021 13th overall pick owns a 1.35 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings at Single-A Clearwater, where he’s shown a heater that touches 101 and has gotten a ton of swings and misses on its own. Standing at 6-foot-7, Painter moves past Mick Abel as the Phils’ top pitching prospect.

Moving down
Josh Jung, 3B, Rangers (No. 26 to No. 38):
Jung hadn’t undergone shoulder surgery when we first locked in our list. He is expected to return in mid-August at the earliest and could still be an eligible prospect during his age-25 season in 2023.

Edward Cabrera, RHP, Marlins (No. 30 to No. 49): A biceps injury got Cabrera off to a late start in April, and he’s been inconsistent to find success (and control) in a return to Triple-A Jacksonville. Max Meyer and Eury Pérez now sit above him on the Miami list.

Cade Cavalli, RHP, Nationals (No. 35 to No. 50): Last year’s Minor League strikeout leader has struggled with consistent command in a return to Triple-A Rochester, where he owns a 6.75 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and .246 average-against through 33 1/3 innings. The stuff remains top-of-the-rotation quality, but Cavalli will need to spot his pitches better to find his way to Washington this summer.

Cole Winn, RHP, Rangers (No. 44 to No. 54): The 22-year-old is at Triple-A earlier than most pitchers his age but is nearly walking (23) as many batters as he’s striking out (24) through 36 1/3 innings at Round Rock — not encouraging numbers for a right-hander with four above-average pitches. Plenty of time remains for a 2022 turnaround.

Austin Martin, OF/SS, Twins (No. 48 to No. 63): Minnesota returned Martin to Double-A for his second full season in hopes that his plus hit tool would shine quickly. That hasn’t happened. Martin has made a good amount of contact (13.6 percent K rate) but has managed just a .257 average through 35 games with Wichita. He worryingly continues to show little power too (one homer among 35 hits). On the positive side: his 18 steals are already four more than his 2021 total.

Moving out
Sixto Sánchez, RHP, Marlins (previously No. 54):
The 23-year-old missed all of 2021 with shoulder issues and still hasn’t returned for 2022 due to further concerns. Evaluators are more concerned than ever that he won’t be the ace he once seemed, and it’ll take a healthy return for him to jump back into Top 100 consideration.

Emerson Hancock, RHP, Mariners (previously No. 78): Hancock suffered from arm and shoulder problems that kept him to only 44 2/3 innings last season, and a strained right lat slowed him again to begin what was meant to be his second full campaign. He’s back with Double-A Arkansas now with something to prove in terms of consistent health and results in the pros.

Greg Jones, SS, Rays (previously No. 86): The 24-year-old switch-hitter has struck out 34.8 percent of the time over 24 games at Double-A Montgomery, deepening concerns about his hit tool. On the positive side, he’s gone 17-for-19 in stolen base attempts, showing he can still put his 70-grade speed to good use when he does reach base.

New faces
Brayan Bello, RHP, Red Sox (No. 84): The 23-year-old right-hander earned an early-season promotion to Triple-A Worcester, thanks to a fastball-slider-changeup mix that grades out above-average to plus across the board. Bello sports a 1.82 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and 52 strikeouts over 39 2/3 innings across two levels to begin the season.

Ken Waldichuk, LHP, Yankees (No. 91): We covered Waldichuk’s deep four-pitch arsenal here. (Check out the Whirly, in particular.) Since that story ran, he’s been promoted to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre having fanned 41.1 percent of the Double-A batters he faced.

Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Cubs (No. 97): The 2020 19th overall pick, who was acquired from the Mets while injured at last year’s Trade Deadline, has been off to a fiery start at Single-A Myrtle Beach, where he’s hitting .372/.463/.584 through 33 games. Crow-Armstrong is a plus runner and plus-plus defender in center on top of that.

Zack Gelof, 3B, Athletics (No. 98): The A’s got aggressive by sending Gelof to Double-A to begin his first full season, and he’s responded by hitting .327/.383/.477 over 35 games with Midland. He’s a quality defender at third base too and has even filled in in center field, putting his athleticism to good use.

Iván Herrera, C, Cardinals (No. 99): Herrera’s defense behind the plate already had him on track to be a potential Yadier Molina replacement candidate in St. Louis. Now, he’s looked like an even better all-around hitter at Triple-A Memphis, where he owns a .310/.405/.493 slash line through 20 games.

Hunter Brown, RHP, Astros (No. 100): Following Peña’s graduation, the Astros still claim a Top 100 representative in the 23-year-old right-hander with an upper-90s fastball and two promising breakers in his slider and curve. Brown has fanned 46 batters through 33 1/3 innings in his return to Triple-A Sugar Land.